The Oakland Community College (OCC) Board of Trustees approved a two-year collective bargaining agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 324, at its September 15 regular meeting. The agreement provides each member with an ”off-schedule” lump sum payment of $900 each year in lieu of general salary increases. The cost of the lump sum payment is offset by the suspension of the employee tuition reimbursement program during the term of the agreement.
“We are pleased to have reached a collaborative agreement,” said William MacQueen, vice chancellor of human resources at OCC. “The bargaining group acknowledged resources are scarce in education today; however, everyone was committed to finding common ground and resolving the issues in a reasonable fashion.”
In addition, the new agreement includes a refocused benefits package. As the cost of health care has increased, the College sought out a variety of medical plan options that would maintain high quality care, while also controlling costs.
In light of Michigan’s statute governing employer-provided health care coverage, the Oakland Community College Board of Trustees adopted a budget for the 2015/2016 fiscal year that includes a move to the state “hard cap” maximums for medical insurance coverage effective January 1, 2016. This is a change from the College’s current approach wherein the College pays 80% of the medical insurance premium cost. Moving to the “hard cap” on medical insurance costs for all employee groups will save the College over $1 million for the second half of the 2015/2016 budget year and approximately $2 million annually. As a result of the College’s due diligence in seeking out new medical plan options, premium contributions by employees will actually be reduced without sacrificing the quality of the insurance coverage.
The Operating Engineers’ unit is the first bargaining unit to settle a new agreement among the five units negotiating with the College this year. “We remain committed to collaborative problem-solving with our bargaining groups,” said MacQueen. “Our commitment is to being fiscally responsible while finding collaborative and innovative solutions.”